By Marcy Stamper
An administrator at Okanogan County Superior Court and the court itself have filed a lawsuit against Okanogan County and all three county commissioners, claiming that the commissioners have interfered with the court’s authority to manage and compensate their staff.
Dennis Rabidou, who holds two positions — as Okanogan County’s superior court administrator and juvenile department administrator — contends in the lawsuit, that the commissioners have blocked the court from paying his agreed-upon salary. The lawsuit was filed in Okanogan County Superior Court on June 20 by a special assistant to the state’s attorney general.
The lawsuit states that Rabidou, who was hired by and reports to the judges, negotiated a four-year contract in 2015, giving Rabidou a raise in light of his two positions with the court. Rabidou was initially hired in 2010 as juvenile department administrator. In 2013, he was appointed to serve concurrently as superior court administrator, according to the legal documents.
The lawsuit states that the county commissioners agreed that they did not want or need to be a party to any employment agreement between the Superior Court and its administrator. The legal document also states that they county’s budget process allows individual departments and branches of government to make their own internal allocations and that the court had adequate funds in its budget to pay Rabidou the additional amount.
But the suit charges that the commissioners adopted a resolution in 2015 that requires their advance approval for any salary adjustments.
Rabidou and the Superior Court allege that the commissioners have “been hostile to” and “improperly intruded into … the management of the Superior Court including its juvenile division.” It also states that the commissioners are micro-managing budgeted funds.
It says the commissioners have instructed the county auditor not to pay Rabidou the contracted salary amount. The contract provides for annual increases so that Rabidou’s monthly salary would be about $1,000 more at the end of four years.
The county commissioners were not available at press time to comment.
The case will be heard by a visiting judge because of the involvement of the Superior Court.